Ed Driscoll

'Detroit: A City on the Move'...into the Abyss

“In 1965 Detroit produced a 20 minute film designed to sell itself to the Olympic Committee which would choose where to host the games in 1968. Watching it in retrospect it’s amazing how far the city has fallen in 50 years,” John Sexton writes at the Breitbart.com group blog:

In the introduction to the film, Mayor Jerome Cavanagh says his city is experiencing its “finest hour.” That turned out to be true. Just two years later Detroit became the scene of the nation’s worst rioting since the Civil War. Over the next five days, 43 people would be killed and nearly 1200 injured. Police made 7,000 arrests made and the chaos finally stopped after President Lyndon Johnson sent in 8,000 members of the National Guard. Yet in 1965, Mayor Cavanagh seems pleased (see part 2 below) with Detroit’s “progress in good ethnic relations.”

Sexton has the whole twenty-minute film; here’ s a brief sample:

Footage like this is akin to looking at film of Dresden or Berlin shortly before those cities were flattened at the end of World War II. Though as Mark Steyn said a couple of years ago, “Unlike European cities, no bombs fell on this American city,” he said. “This American city did it to themselves.”

Taking office at the start of 1962 and replacing the city’s last GOP mayor, Mayor Cavanagh was the first in what continues to this day as an uninterrupted string of Democrats running Detroit, in an increasingly leftward and punitive direction. The 1967 Detroit riots occurred just two years after the above film was produced. Eventually, Coleman Young would govern the city for a twenty year span from 1974 to 1994. Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh, with an assist from a passages written on the city in a 1990 book by Zev Chafets, documented how that period worked out:

Now, under Mayor Coleman Young, Detroit had an official nationalist doctrine that referred to the riots as the rebellion and the former white administrations that used to run the city as occupying powers.  That’s how he talked about them.  He was leading the rebellion of the city inside, you know, south of Eight Mile, and the occupying powers were outside the city.

Now, to make the point even clearer he erected a statue in honor of Joe Louis.  It was a giant black fist right at the freeway entrance to downtown Detroit.  A giant black fist in honor of Joe Louis right at the freeway entrance to downtown Detroit.  So it was clear that Coleman Young harbored hatred for the whites who had fled the city after the black riots.  Well, that hate was reciprocated.  The whites, who might have wanted to invest, or live in the city, decided not to.  They decided to stay out.  This caused downtown Detroit to become a ghost town, which, according to Chafets’ book, was fine with the mayor.

He built a political machine that kept himself in power for 20 years by fanning the fires of racial grievance and separatism.  Coleman Young told Zev Chafets that his role models were Boss Daley of Chicago, Boss Curley of Boston, Mayor Cavanaugh of Detroit, and other ethnic tribal leaders of the past.  And he was very open about it.  And all of these people that he admired had looted their cities on behalf of themselves and their political base and Coleman Young said now it was my turn, and that’s what he did in Detroit. [Oh, that punitive liberalism — Ed.]

The 20 years of Colemanism, the 20 years that he was mayor were one long experiment in municipal black nationalism and ideological separatism.  And by the name of he left office, the city was a shambles.  He was followed by Dennis Archer and then Kwame Kilpatrick. Archer became a prisoner of the system.  Kwame Kilpatrick became a prisoner of the federal penal system.  They got him, it was multiple acts of corruption, but I forgot the details of what it was.  But it all happened.  I mean, this program was happening while all this was going on in Detroit.  And Kwame Kilpatrick and Dennis Archer, Coleman Young was their mentor. He was their role model.  It is said that even Dave Bing is part of the Coleman Young legacy.

So what you have, Detroit is a city with no tax base, no budget, no money, no services, no schools, hardly any employment, no viable political life, and it’s now ruled by a Republican governor, as is the result of the bankruptcy.

At the end of our brief excerpt from his highlight reel, shot two years before its residents chose to upend Detroit, Mayor Cavanagh exclaims, “A new renaissance is changing the city. This renaissance, seen everywhere, is the direct result of considered planning — the applied skills of planners, idea men, organizers, builders — Detroiters who welcome and respond to challenges. Today they are charting new courses, taking new action, creating a new concept of urban efficiency.”

Well, heading off on the road to Starnesville probably sounded good at time, I guess.

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Update: I’ve leaned pretty heavily on Steven Crowder’s brilliant 2009 footage in recent weeks; but the Trifecta lads at PJTV are doing a three-part series on Detroit’s collapse this week. Here’s part I; watch for the charts that Bill Whittle mentions shortly into clip, which diagram the massive outflow from the beleaguered former metropolis, in comparison to other major American cities:

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More: “Remember When Obama Said Detroit Was Coming Back?”, Major Garrett rhetorically asks in National Journal:

Obama also saluted the White House decision to make Detroit one of its six pilot cities in the “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” program.

“We’re teaming up with everybody—mayors, local officials, you name it—boosting economic development, rebuilding your communities the best way,” Obama said. “This is a city where the great American industry has come back to life and the industries of tomorrow are taking root.”

The biggest accomplishment of this program in Detroit is the demolition of a public housing project. There are also hopes, diminished by the bankruptcy proceedings, of building a $100 million light-rail line. Other “accomplishments” include a “text my bus” system “to provide more reliable information on transportation schedules”—this in a city that has lost half its bus service since 2005 and where budget cuts have eliminated overnight service. The “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” program also envisions the possible development of a regional transportation authority for Detroit.

With public housing being demolished, a text system for late or nonexistent bus service, and a federally funded lithium-ion battery factory that never met its hyped employment plans and then fell into bankruptcy, does any of this sound like, as Obama said, the foundations of a “city where people, brave and bold, courageous and clever, are dreaming up ways to prove the skeptics wrong and write the next proud chapter in our history”?

A map for the road out of Starnesville won’t be materializing soon. At least not for another 1,200 days or so.